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Terms and Policy

I am very pleased that you have selected me to be your psychotherapist, and I am sincerely looking forward to assisting you. This document is designed to inform you about what you can expect from me regarding confidentiality, emergencies, and several other details regarding your treatment. Although providing this document is part of an ethical obligation to my profession, more importantly, it is part of my commitment to you to keep you fully informed of every part of your therapeutic experience. Please know that your relationship with me is a collaborative one, and I welcome any questions, comments, or suggestions regarding your course of therapy at any time.

Background Information
The following information regarding my educational background and experience as a therapist is an ethical requirement of my profession. If you have any questions, please feel free to ask. I received my undergraduate BA at the University of South Carolina and completed my Master of Education Degree in Human Development Counseling from Vanderbilt University. I have specialized in working with girls, women and families during the entirety of my career beginning with my work as a counselor at Vanderbilt Women’s Center, Renfrew Center in Nashville, TN and Puenta De Vida in San Diego, CA. I began working at Focus Treatment Centers in their center for eating disorders in 2009 where I provided group and family therapy to women with eating disorders, addiction, depression, anxiety, suicidality and self-harm. In 2012, I left my position as primary therapist of the eating disorder unit to serve as the clinical outreach director and to open a private practice. I have intensively trained under Dr. Anita Johnston, world-renowned eating disorder expert and author of Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling.

Theoretical Views & Client Participation

It is my belief that as people become more aware and accepting of themselves, they are more capable of finding a sense of peace and contentment in their lives. However, self-awareness and
self-acceptance are goals that may take a long time to achieve. Some clients need only a few sessions
to achieve these goals, whereas others may require months or even years of therapy. As a client, you are in complete control, and you may end your relationship with me at any point.

In order for therapy to be most successful, it is important for you to take an active role. This means working on the things you and I talk about both during and between sessions. This also means avoiding any mind-altering substances like alcohol or non-prescription drugs for at least eight hours prior to your therapy sessions. Generally, the more of yourself you are willing to invest, the greater the return.

Furthermore, it is my policy to only see clients who I believe have the capacity to resolve their
own problems with my assistance. It is my intention to empower you in your growth process to the degree that you are capable of facing life’s challenges in the future without me. I also don’t believe in creating dependency or prolonging therapy if the therapeutic intervention does not seem to be helping. If this is the case, I will direct you to other resources that will be of assistance to you. Your personal development is my number one priority. I encourage you to let me know if you feel that transferring to another therapist is necessary at any time. My goal is to facilitate healing and growth, and I am very committed to helping you in whatever way seems to produce maximum benefit.

Confidentiality & Records

Your communications with me will become part of a clinical record of treatment, and it is referred to as Protected Health Information (PHI). Your PHI will be kept in a file stored in a locked cabinet in my office. Additionally, I will always keep everything you say to me completely confidential, with the following exceptions: (1) you direct me to tell someone else and you sign a “Release of Information” form; (2) I determine that you are a danger to yourself or to others; (3) you report information about the abuse of a child, an elderly person, or a disabled individual who may require protection; or (4) I am ordered by a judge to disclose information. In the latter case, my license does provide me with the ability to uphold what is legally termed “privileged communication.” Privileged communication is your right as a client to have a confidential relationship with a therapist. The state of Georgia has a very good track record in respecting this legal right. If for some unusual reason a judge were to order the disclosure of your private information, this order can be appealed. I cannot guarantee that the appeal will be sustained, but I will do everything in my power to keep what you say confidential.

Please note that in family counseling, I do not agree to keep secrets. Information revealed in any context may be discussed with other family members.

Structure and Cost of Sessions

I agree to provide psychotherapy for the fee of $135 per 45-minute individual session, $135 per 45-minute family session, and/or $55 per 90-minute group therapy session, unless otherwise negotiated by you or your insurance carrier. Each therapy session will be forty-five minutes in duration unless we discuss a different length of time in advance. Time will not be added for late arrivals. Doing psychotherapy by telephone is not ideal but at times you and I may choose to add a phone session billed at the rate of $135 per 45-minute session. The fee for each session will be due at the conclusion of the session. Credit cards, cash and personal checks are acceptable for payment, and I will provide you with a receipt of payment via my online client portal. The receipt of payment may also be used as a statement for insurance if applicable to you. Please note that there is a $25 fee for any returned checks.

Insurance companies have many rules and requirements specific to certain plans. Unless otherwise negotiated, it is your responsibility to find out your insurance company’s policies and to file for insurance reimbursement. I will be glad to provide you with a statement for your insurance company and to assist you with any questions you may have in this area. Please let me know in your first session if you intend to submit your receipts to insurance for reimbursement.

Cancellation Policy

In the event that you are unable to keep an appointment, you must notify me at least 24 hours in advance. If such advance notice is not received, you will be financially responsible for the session you missed. Please note that insurance companies do not reimburse for missed sessions.

Skills Coaching

For clients participating in individual therapy, my work includes brief telephone conversations (less than 15 minutes) or texts for the purpose of “skills coaching”. Skills coaching provide you with the opportunity to call or text me when you are struggling and I will provide several ideas for how to cope with the situation based on the work we have been doing.

Communicating with me
You are welcome to contact me via text, phone and email or via secure messaging in my online client portal. Please be aware that I cannot guarantee the confidentiality of information that you share with me via text and email. These forms of communication are less secured than sending me a double-encrypted message via my online portal. Because I am in session with clients throughout the day, it sometimes takes me several days to respond to calls and emails. I usually respond to texts within 24 hours. In case of emergencies you are welcome to contact me between the hours of 8am and 9pm.

In Case of Emergency
If you have a mental health emergency, and it is after my hours or you cannot reach me, I encourage you not to wait for a call back, but to do one or more of the following:

• Call Ridgeview Institute at 770.434.4567 or Peachford Hospital at 770.454.5589.
• Call 911.
• Go to your nearest emergency room.

Professional Relationship

Psychotherapy is a professional service I will provide to you. Because of the nature of therapy, your relationship with me has to be different from most relationships. It may differ in how long it lasts, the objectives, or the topics discussed. It must also be limited to only the relationship of therapist and client. If you and I were to interact in any other ways, you would then have a "dual relationship," which could prove to be harmful to you in the long run and is, therefore, unethical in the mental health profession. Dual relationships can set up conflicts between the therapist's interests and the client’s interests, and then the client’s (your) interests might not be put first. In order to offer all of my clients the best care, my judgment needs to be unselfish and purely focused on your needs. This is why your relationship with me must remain professional in nature.

Additionally, there are important differences between therapy and friendship. Friends may see your position only from their personal viewpoints and experiences. Friends may want to find quick and easy solutions to your problems so that they can feel helpful. These short-term solutions may not be in your long-term best interest. Friends do not usually follow up on their advice to see whether it was useful. They may need to have you do what they advise. A therapist offers you choices and helps you choose what is best for you. A therapist helps you learn how to solve problems better and make better decisions. A therapist's responses to your situation are based on tested theories and methods of change.

You should also know that therapists are required to keep the identity of their client’s secret. As much as I would like to, for your confidentiality I will not address you in public unless you speak to me first. I also must decline any invitation to attend gatherings with your family or friends. I will not be able to connect with you via social media. Lastly, when your therapy is completed, I will not be able to be a friend to you like your other friends. In sum, it is my duty to always maintain a professional role. Please note that these guidelines are not meant to be discourteous in any way, they are strictly for your long-term protection.

Statement Regarding Ethics, Client Welfare & Safety

I assure you that my services will be rendered in a professional manner consistent with the ethical standards of the American Counseling Association. If at any time you feel that I am not performing in an ethical or professional manner, I ask that you please let me know immediately. If we are unable to resolve your concern, I will provide you with information to contact the Georgia professional licensing board that governs my profession.

Due to the very nature of psychotherapy, as much as I would like to guarantee specific results regarding your therapeutic goals, I am unable to do so. However, with your participation, we will work to achieve the best possible results for you. Please also be aware that changes made in therapy may affect other people in your life. For example, an increase in your assertiveness may not always be welcomed by others. It is my intention to help you manage changes in your interpersonal relationships as they arise, but it is important for you to be aware of this possibility nonetheless.

Additionally, at times people find that they feel somewhat worse when they first start therapy before they begin to feel better. This may occur as you begin discussing certain sensitive areas of your life. However, a topic usually isn’t sensitive unless it needs attention. Therefore, discovering the discomfort is actually a success. Once you and I are able to target your specific treatment needs and the particular modalities that work the best for you, help is generally on the way.

I am sincerely looking forward to facilitating you on your journey toward healing and growth. If you have any questions about any part of this document, please ask.

Please print, date, and sign your name below indicating that you have read and understand the contents of this form, you agree to the policies of your relationship with me as your therapist, and you are authorizing me to begin treatment with you.
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